2011-06-30 19:08:38 UTC
by Audrey Hudson
It’s not unusual for politicians on Capitol Hill to recognize citizens
during hearings on legislation that would have a positive or negative
impact on their lives.
But that tactic took a different turn this week when hundreds of illegal
immigrants filled the largest hearing room in the Senate to openly
participate in the proceedings.
And they did so without threat of arrest from the nation’s chief
immigration law enforcement official who was sitting in the front row:
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Many of the illegal immigrants were recognized by name by Sen. Dick
Durbin (D. –Ill.) who led the panel, and commended by Obama
administration officials who want to give them legal status under
sweeping legislation called the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act would give permanent legal status to illegal immigrants,
up to age 35, who arrived in the United States before age 16, provided
they complete two years of college or serve two years in the military.
“The young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act call
themselves dreamers,” Durbin said. “Over the years, I have met hundreds
of these dreamers, and hundreds of them are here today,” Durbin continued.
Durbin introduced about a half dozen of the illegal immigrants by name
and asked them to stand, as he told their story of how they were brought
into the country illegally by their parents. Although they had attended
U.S. schools, Durbin said they
could either not get jobs or faced problems pursing higher education
because of their illegal status.
“Let me ask everyone here today who is a DREAM Act student to stand and
be recognized,” Durbin said.
Nearly everyone in the audience stood.
“Thank you so much for being here,” Durbin said.